Bamboo; The Green Gold

Talk about bamboo and most Zimbabweans will just see it as a decorative plant planted around homesteads mostly in urban areas. What they are not aware of is that it is much, much more than that. Bamboo is a grass, not a tree, that grows to more than 30 metres and mostly found in countries like China and Japan where it grows in vast areas. One of the most interesting things about this grass is that it can grow as fast as 90cm in 24 hours making itself one of the fastest growing plants in the world maturing in 3 to 5 years. It can grow almost anywhere without needing a lot of attention in the form of irrigation, fertilization or use of insecticides.
In terms of beneficiation bamboo is said to have a wide variety of more than 1000 documented uses. I am sure many of us have seen bamboo furniture in the form of chairs, tables, sofas, stools, shelves, screens, beds and many more other items. In the kitchen it can also be used to make kitchenware like mugs, knives, forks, spoons, baskets, toothpicks and other items. Other uses include ladders, scaffolding, bridges, paper, fabric for T-shirts and towels, toilet tissue, even bicycles, toothbrushes, houses, walls around homes and numerous more. In our rural set up bamboo can be used in many ways where we would normally use wood from trees. This way we can save our forests that are being decimated at the alarming rate of more than 300 000 hectares every year. Coming to the environment and climate change bamboo is said to produce 35% more oxygen than trees making it useful for us in our fight for a cleaner atmosphere. Bamboo is good for preventing soil erosion because of the way it grows. Once planted it grows very fast without much attention and the more you cut it the more it grows. More still, some varieties of bamboo are actually edible. Beneficiation of bamboo means employment creation whereby many can be financially empowered by making and selling items made from bamboo whose economy is valued at over 60 billion US Dollars. That is bamboo for you.
Now as it is nothing can stop us Zimbabweans from taking a bite of the bamboo cake. Other African countries like Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda are already benefiting from bamboo. We can start growing bamboo here in rural areas and in our farms. If government pushes bamboo the way it is doing pfumvudza this can be a major step towards vision 2030. Enough for today, your Sekuru Taurai is now going to plant his own bamboo and if you all join me Zimbabwe can also be called Bambooland.

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